Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has claimed that the current side are not as good as his team from the 2002/03 campaign.
What has Neil Lennon said about Celtic?
Ange Postecoglou’s high-flying side, who are set to retain their Scottish Premiership title in style with 103 goals scored and just one league defeat so far this season, are now being compared with great Celtic teams of old following their exceptional displays this season.
The likes of Kyogo Furuhashi and Jota have particularly impressed with their output as Celtic march towards what could end up being a domestic treble, but Lennon has claimed that the current crop are a level below the side he played in 20 years ago.
With Martin O’Neill at the helm, Celtic were pipped to the Premiership crown on goal difference, but were most fondly remembered for their UEFA Cup run, as they took Jose Mourinho’s Porto all the way to extra time in a pulsating final in Seville, which ultimately ended in defeat.
Speaking on the PLZ Soccer Football Show, Lennon highlighted that there were Champions League winners in his side – something which is not possible at Celtic now given the difference in player recruitment.
Asked if the current team could compete with the likes of Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton, the ex-Hoops boss responded: “No. Seriously, no.
“It’s hypothetical and I get it, but you have to remember, me, Sutty [Sutton], Alan Thompson, John Hartson – we were all top players in the Premier League and we came this way; it wouldn’t happen now,” he stated.
“It’s like Ange going down and buying James Maddison or Ivan Toney, for £40-50m. That’s the bar that was set then.
“Rangers were bringing in Tore Andre Flo, Stefan Klos, a Champions League winner; we had Paul Lambert, a Champions League winner. They had me, Henrik, Sutty. I think we’d be too powerful for them.
“If we were at our peak and Ange’s team was at their peak, I think we’d be too strong for them.”
Which Celtic side was better?
Although it is always tough to compare teams from two different eras, Celtic’s mesmerising performances that season certainly have them in the conversation when comparing some of the club’s best modern sides.
In terms of pure numbers, Postecoglou’s side are well on their way to eclipsing the league performance of the 2002/03 side. With five games to go, Celtic need just five points to match the 97 Lennon’s side obtained, and that side also lost three times, in comparison to the current team’s solitary loss all season.
Celtic have scored 103 times this season, meaning they have already out-scored O’Neill’s men, but have conceded 25 goals already, with the team of 20 years ago shipping 26 in the entire league campaign.
However, European performance is arguably what separates the two sides. After being knocked out in Champions League qualifying, Celtic made the UEFA Cup final after knocking out Blackburn Rovers, Stuttgart and Liverpool in 2003, a remarkable run which is still remembered in Hoops folklore.
Ange’s side, meanwhile, finished bottom of their Champions League group this term, with two draws and no wins from their six matches against Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and RB Leipzig. Even if they finished third in their group and dropped down to the Europa League, then they could have had a chance at bettering Lennon’s side in Europe – but given no Celtic team has matched that achievement since, you can see why Lennon is backing his former teammates.
#Postecoglous #side #inferior #team